Born in France in 1968 to Calabrese parents, Anthony Genovese has reveled in his Italian heritage at every stage of his professional career. After completing his culinary education at l’Ecole Hôtelière de Nice in France, he went on to gain experience at a variety of Michelin-starred French restaurants. After spending time in Monaco, Marseille and Nice, his connection to Italy brought him to 3-Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence.
Following his time in Italy, Genovese embarked on a culinary journey across Asia to diversify his food knowledge and further his skills in varying cooking styles. From Japan to Malaysia and Thailand, and eventually the United Kingdom, Anthony was inspired by his travels and uses these experiences as part of his cooking to this day.
Upon his return to Italy, Anthony took up the position of head chef at restaurant Rossellinis at the Hotel Palazzo Sasso in Ravello, where he was awarded with his first Michelin star by the Michelin Guide. In 2003, he teamed up with good friend Marion Lichtle to open Il Pagliaccio, his very own little circus. Located in Via dei Banchi Vecchi, the small, 28-seat restaurant is just steps from the renowned Campo de’ Fiori and many of Rome’s favorite tourist spots.
The restaurant’s décor reflects the chef’s time spent travelling while providing a perfect backdrop for the culinary journey that ensues. Recently renovated, it boasts a rich, cosseted ambiance with simple table presentation, delicate furnishings and soft lighting, creating a contemporary and chic yet tranquil space where guests can indulge. Floral aesthetics are also abundant, giving way to a vibrant adjoining courtyard.
Il Pagliaccio, which literally translates to “The Clown”, takes its name from a painting given to Anthony by his mother. The painting, which now proudly overlooks the restaurant, channels the mastery of different emotions that the circus character can evoke. One of Il Pagliaccio’s tasting menus, titled Circus, has too drawn on these powerful emotions, seeking to tantalize guests’ taste buds while conjuring up feelings of joy, curiosity and nostalgia through its dishes.
The elegant and subdued restaurant transports Italian cuisine to a new era, allowing prime produce and Anthony’s cooking prowess to shine. Cutting-edge, complex, technically challenging and inspired above all by his personal tastes and choice of ingredients – this what defines Anthony Genovese’s cuisine. His signature dishes are featured among other beautiful creations in his unique tasting menus and include: Journey, foie gras and amberjack; Tribute, Mediterranean spaghetti and dried cod; and Unusual, lacquered duck and plums.
Anthony describes his food as very personal. Using traditional French techniques as a base, he layers in oriental influences from his time in Asia and blends them with flavors from his Italian roots. His creativity along with the allure of the ingredients and their pairings navigate his cooking, which is underpinned by classic gastronomy.
Anthony quickly made a name for himself and his restaurant in the industry, cementing Il Pagliaccio as one of Italy’s finest restaurants early on. In 2009, it was recognized with 2 stars by the Michelin Guide and in 2015, it became a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group as Grand Chef Restaurant. In 2017, it was awarded with a coveted 3 Forks ranking by Gambero Rosso and it also took first place in the Top 100 restaurants in Rome list. Il Pagliaccio was again named top restaurant in the 2019 list and became a member of Les Grandes Tables du Monde in the same year.
Describe your culinary philosophy:
My current culinary philosophy has essentially been developed from my own personal experiences. My family and culture are a mixture of both French and Italian. But, because of my curiosity and desire to learn more, I have also spent a lot of my life travelling around Asia. I find my dishes reflect all these different cultures, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes more powerfully. The combination of preparation styles and ingredients is essential.
What is your greatest inspiration and how do you incorporate this into your cooking?
Creating a dish is a process that develops in different ways. My cuisine follows the seasons, so I elaborate dishes that are related specifically to the time of the year we’re in, while also drawing on flavour combinations I’ve found on my travels. We do some experimentation in the kitchen, as well. Teamwork plays an important part.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, where would you go?
If I were to take a flight to a restaurant, it would surely be made up of stopovers that touch all the great restaurants in the world. We are talking about Alain Ducasse, Passédat, Noma, Alinea and so on.
Who is your culinary hero and why?
I do not have a culinary hero, but rather I do have many examples I follow, as I am always buzzing with ideas
- 2 Michelin stars at Il Pagliaccio
- Member of Relais & Chateaux group as Grand Chef Restaurant
- Three Forks for Il Pagliaccio | Gambero Rosso
- First place in ‘I Cento’ – Top 100 Restaurants in Rome guide
- 4 Cappelli | Guide L’Espresso
- Member of Les Grandes Tables du Monde
Via dei Banchi Vecchi 129a